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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Why I don't have time for archery

am not a good archer, and I have never spent any significant amount of time practicing archery or making bows, there may be some who would say that that is a serious gap in my knowledge as a bushcrafter. 
However: I would argue that my time is better spent developing skills in other areas, after all if my time is limited I would rather spend my time working on mastering a new method of friction fire lighting, practicing flint knapping or work on some deer hides. Not because I dislike archery or think that archery is less important than other bushcraft  skills but simply because in the UK, given the current laws, it is of no use to me. As a deer stalker I use a rifle to kill deer as a method of reducing damage to agriculture, timber crops and conservation woodlands but The Deer Act (1991) and it's subsequent reforms and amendments prohibit the use of spears, arrows and other similar projectiles. Although the act does not specify why these methods of pursuing game are prohibited I can make a few educated guesses;


We know that spears, bows and arrows, atlats as well as blunt instruments; clubs, bolas, deadfalls and packs of dogs were used historically for subsistence hunting.  but modern animal welfare legislation requires us to cause no unnecessary suffering to our quarry. Modern [legal] traps are tested extensively to prove that they kill humanely and rifles and shotguns have been developed over the years to produce weapons which are very accurate and powerful and which, if the correct calibres and types of bullet are used will cause a clean and humane kill. If we are required to cause as little suffering as possible when harvesting animals from the wild surely we need to use the most effective tools for the job. Talking of the effectiveness of weapons leads on to my next point;


Bullets cause death by causing massive wounds which cause massive, rapid blood loss. Bullets do this by expanding rapidly on impact, that's why they are made of soft materials like lead and/or copper, this expansion transfers the energy from the bullet to the animal rupturing internal structures, organs, arteries and vessels and often also causes massive exit wounds. This helps the person hunting or stalking if an animal does not drop immediately (this is a very regular occurrence even when an animal is 'dead' a surge of adrenaline can cause it to run quite some distance) these massive wounds bleed profusely leaving a blood trail which can be followed easily. Yes there may be many of you who are exceptional trackers who can track a deer even without a blood trail but it certainly helps. An arrow or spear on the other hand cuts rather than smashes and therefore often causes less [external] blood loss compared to a bullet and less physical damage to the animal making it harder to track. This is a welfare issue as much as a concern over actually finding the animal you hope to harvest, if you are to ensure that the animal is humanely dispatched you must be able to follow it and find where it fell to ensure it is already dead or to dispatch it quickly. 


For the two smallest deer species in England and Wales, Reeves Muntjac and Chinese water deer muzzle energies (this is the energy a single bullet carries as it leaves the muzzle of a firearms) of at least 1000ft/lbs of energy are required for the four larger species the minimum requirement is 1700ft/lbs. compare that to an arrow;
Take the weight of an arrow (these measurements are in grains rather then grams, the common measurement for the weight of bullets and arrows) for example 376 grains. you will also need to know the velocity of the arrow lets take 265 feet per second (fps) as an example. Velocity can be determined using a chronograph;

A simple chronograph, a projectile would be fired between the upright 'wands', the apparatus then compares the time it takes to pass between the two pares of wands and calculates it's velocity.
By Krakuspm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Once you have these two measurements you can work out the energy of the projectile;
weight in grains  x  velocity in fps   x  velocity in fps  x  2.2 =energy in pounds per square foot (ft/lbs)
        100                        100                         100
     376                 x          275            x         275            x  2.2
      100                            100                        100
     3.76                x          2.75           x         2.75           x  2.2  =  62.56 fl/lbs
The same calculation can be used for rifle bullets, so from the back of a box of 105 grain geko ammunition for my .243 we get the following information;
bullet weight 105 grain
muzzle velocity 2955 fps
   105                 x             2955        x          2955         x 2.2 =  2017.1 ft/lbs
   100                                 100                      100    
So in terms of the energy of legal firearms for deer stalking arrows are not producing any where near that limit and you can imagine for yourselves how this translates to the severity of a wound and the likelihood of that wound to humanely kill your targeted animal.             

So there you have it; my reasons for not making archery a priority in my arsenal of bushcraft related skills, that's not to say I don't find the subject fascinating just that there are other things I feel are more important.

I hope the diversion into balistics, maths and the law has been interesting and usefull.


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